IWC have a strong reputation when it comes to pilots watches, in fact some might say they are the go-to choice. Others would perhaps choose a Breitling, or maybe a Bell & Ross. So a new variation – and a revival of a cult classic – of the familiar Pilot Chronograph is always interesting. Here’s the press release from IWC;
With the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Tribute to 3705”, IWC Schaffhausen travels back in time to honour the legendary Ceramic Fliegerchronograph (ref. 3705) from 1994. After fading into obscurity for almost a quarter of a century, it became a cult classic and is now considered one of the most sought-after models from IWC’s recent history. The new tribute edition faithfully replicates the original’s dial design. Instead of using ceramic, however, it features a case made of Ceratanium®, a groundbreaking new material developed by IWC. Powered by the in-house 69380 calibre and fitted on a black calfskin strap, this special edition is limited to 1000 watches and sold exclusively on IWC.com.
Now we are no fans of watches or bracelets made from pottery here at The Northern Watch Co, because they shatter like a kid’s toy on Boxing Day. So this is good news, but there’s more;
Throughout its 152-year history, IWC has created modern icons such as the Big Pilot or the Portugieser Chronograph. But tucked away in the archives, there are also hidden gems; timepieces that are overlooked before they shoot to unexpected fame. One such model is the “IWC Fliegerchronograph Keramik” from 1994, which was IWC’s first Pilot’s Watch with a case made of black zirconium oxide ceramic. Despite its use of this highly innovative material and its purist instrument design, the chronograph enjoyed little success. After only about a thousand pieces, production was discontinued a few years later.
FROM OBSCURITY TO A CULT CLASSIC
The ref. 3705 did not become famous until about a quarter of a century later. Following various articles on specialised blogs, the “Black Flieger” caught the attention of a growing number of watch enthusiasts. With luminous indices and hands, which had aged over time to a warm orange, the once-forgotten chronograph was winning collector’s hearts with its distinct neovintage charm. One piece from the personal collection of former IWC director Günter Blümlein was auctioned for a staggering 53,750 US dollars. But the ref. 3705 does not only embody IWC’s heritage as a manufacturer of professional instrument watches for aviators. With its black ceramic case, the model is also an early testimony to the extensive materials expertise that IWC has acquired since the 1980s; a quality that still distinguishes the company as a modern watchmaker today.
FROM ZIRCONIUM OXIDE CERAMIC TO CERATANIUM®
The newly released Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Tribute to 3705” (Ref. 387905) pays homage to this exceptional timepiece and is limited to 1000 pieces. The dial is a replica of the original from the 1990s. Two totalizers at 9 and 12 o’clock display stop times of up to 12 hours, the small second is located at 6 o’clock. Another feature is the day and date display at 3 o’clock. The ref. 3705 was pioneering in the use of black ceramic, and the tribute edition likewise features a recent innovation from IWC’s material scientists: the case, chronograph pushers and pin buckle are made of Ceratanium®, an IWC-developed material that is light and robust like titanium, but also similarly hard and scratch-resistant like ceramic. In the first step, the case components are machined from a special titanium alloy. Afterwards, the parts are treated in a furnace firing process, during which a phase transformation takes place, and the surface of the material assumes properties similar to ceramic.
POWERED BY THE IN-HOUSE 69 CALIBRE
While the original ref. 3705 was powered by the Valjoux calibre 7750, the new Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Tribute to 3705” boasts sophisticated movement technology from Schaffhausen. Inside the 41-millimetre case, the in-house 69380 calibre is at work. This robust and precise chronograph movement in classic column wheel design is one of the latest developments from IWC’s engineers. A bi-directional pawl winding system reliably builds up a power reserve of 46 hours. The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Tribute to 3705” is available exclusively through IWC.com, wechat, YNAP, and official flagship store on Tmall as a limited edition of 1000 pieces.